Interview conducted by Stephanie Hagen, Head of Conferences and Digital Content, Autonomy
Where to Work is an interview series brought to you by the Urban Mobility Daily and Hyperion Executive Search. We speak with top CEOs in the mobility sector to get the inside scoop on their companies’ work cultures, values and the types of candidate they are looking to hire.
This week we sit down with Kristof Vereenooghe, the CEO of EVBox, a leading global manufacturer of electric vehicle charging stations and charging management software. Kristof talks to us about his company’s rapidly growing staffing needs, why a good attitude trumps technical skills and what it means to be an EVBoxer.
In terms of growth, where do you see EVBox in five years?
Five years is difficult, I would say we are looking at a three-year plan from a business point of view. This industry is so early-phase, immature and changing rapidly that it is difficult to look five years from now. But with what we know from the automotive industry and OEMs (car manufacturers), we can get a very good estimation of the next three years. We are actually expecting serious growth. We moved to a new headquarters in May last year which is a lot bigger than before, and we’ve already outgrown it. 10 months later and we are planning to take an additional big office space in the Amsterdam area to continue to grow our headquarters’ staff. Taking this into account, we are expecting serious growth in staff in the next three years.
Is EVBox a tie or hoodie workplace? In other words, can you tell us a little about EVBox’s culture and work environment?
Our office is in a super modern building, also a very sustainable building and there are only a couple bigger companies that are fixed tenants here. The rest are shared co-working spaces, studios, desks etcetera. So, it is a very open-minded environment. We have a very cool place on the third floor where we have a great open cafeteria and restaurant and we even have a big rooftop where people can sit outside. It’s quite unique, you have to see it to understand but it is a great work environment and people are very relaxed.
One of our biggest assets is our culture, we have a very strong culture at EVBox. We call ourselves EVBoxers. It’s a family with 38 nationalities, a lot of young people and we work hard but also play hard. We are known to enjoy a good party from time to time, so we work hard but we also celebrate successes. We always make time to communicate about the strategy and the company and about welcoming new people. We do our best to be a great place to work.
A growing trend among Millennial job seekers is that they are looking for jobs that don’t just provide a paycheck, but also meaning or purpose. How do you think EVBox’s mission and vision provide meaning for its employees?
That’s definitely the case at EVBox. There are a lot of people who reach out to join our company because of our purpose and because we are active in charging solutions for green mobility and zero-emissions mobility. For example, I announced last week at [our annual eMobility conference] rEVolution that we are this year planting 15 000 trees and so we have right now a couple of colleagues who are in Portugal contributing to the planting of 5 000 trees for communities which suffered from wildfires.
People are part of the total mission and we have a lot of people who want to work in our company because they want to help contribute to saving the planet and giving something back to society. A nice example is recently I had a woman who was the vice president of a top Fintech company, and having a very successful career, who decided to give it up, to change and to come work for us and give up her great package just because she really wanted to do something better in her life and contribute to our planet. We have a lot of people like that.
As a CEO what sort of values are you trying to instill in your company? What motivates you and your team?
When we hire people, we have quite a good process in place where a number of people are part of the interview process. When we hire people, we really want to hire authentic people with the right attitude and mentality and we look at if that person is going to fit as an EVBoxer and fit into the team. Is the person going to have the right respect for other colleagues? Are they an A-class player? It’s even written in our strategy document, that we want to have authentic EVBoxers. And so the personality of those who join our company is really important because we pay so much attention to the culture that we want to make sure that we have the right people with the right attitude joining the team.
Which is more important to you when hiring, mentality or technical skills?
Attitude and mentality and being authentic are the most important because you can have the most brilliant people but if they don’t have the right attitude and mentality, forget about it. It’s not going to work.
What are some other key characteristics that would make a candidate a good fit for EVBox?
Definitely being respectful and a team player. For us, it is not important what nationality you are, we really want to have A-class people with the right mentality, the right attitude and who are attentive and respectful towards other colleagues. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. We are quite entrepreneurial and agile so you have to dare to learn. Making a mistake is allowed as long as we are helping each other to get better. And it’s also important that we are respectful to each other and are likeable people since that is going to be automatically expressed to other stakeholders, customers and partners. Having the right values is important. We want that our partners or customers like to work with EVboxers, feel respected and share the right right business values so that we can work in long-term relationships. .
Think EVBox sounds like a great place to work? Head over to the Urban Mobility Job Board to apply to one of their many open positions!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity